What better way to start my Birth Utah blog than with the birth story of my daughter, Molly? I apologize that it is pretty lengthy, detail-oriented, and honest. Molly's birth was a defining experience of my life (and our life as a family!). I hope sharing my experience will help you to look forward to your next birth!
Molly’s Birth Story
Molly’s due date was Monday, October 18, 2010, but I didn’t have regular, lasting contractions until Sunday, October 24, 2010. The contractions started Sunday morning, but were not very intense. I went to church, where I helped to take care of 22 kids in the nursery, and we were so busy I didn’t really notice how often the contractions were occurring. When I finally sat down, I noticed that the contractions were about 15-20 minutes apart. After church, my husband and I ate lunch and tried to nap, but the contractions were enough to make napping difficult. We relaxed and got our things together just in case it ended up being the “real thing.” I baked some cookies and we made a frozen pizza for dinner, all the while timing the contractions, which were happening about 5 minutes apart and lasting for just under a minute.
Around 6pm, we called our midwife to let her know that we might be coming in to the birth center later on. She was very supportive and told us to keep her updated. After we ate, we watched the movie Madagascar while I bounced on the exercise ball, packed our birth bags, chatted on facebook, and wrote an email to work. Around 9:30, I decided I didn’t want to be at home anymore. I was concerned that if I waited too long the drive to the birth center might be stressful and miserable.
We arrived at the birth center at 10pm. It was beautiful, calm, and exciting. The contractions seemed to calm down after we got there. Our midwife checked me and said I was only 2 cm dilated (but 75% effaced) and not in active labor. I was disappointed and felt a little silly for showing up too soon! She offered to let me try to sleep (which I knew wasn’t going to happen) or to give me cohosh to try to get the contractions into a more regular, productive pattern. We decided to try the cohosh.
The cohosh seemed to make the contractions come closer together and be a bit more intense. I was laying on the comfy bed with my husband, trying to relax and read our books. It felt better to lean over on the bed and have him put LOTS of pressure on my tailbone area. I listened to an affirmations CD on the background, which was a little bit helpful to remind me of what was happening (each of these contractions was totally normal and getting me closer to my baby!). The mood was still pretty light and chatty.
About an hour later, our midwife said the cohosh would have worn off, but the contractions continued steadily. We watched part of the movie Bugs Life until about 2am, when she checked me again. It had been 4 hours since she checked the first time and I had only dilated 1 cm more—3 cm total! Disappointing again, but I tried to remind myself not to do “labor math” and let my body do what it needed to do. We tried to watch the rest of the movie, but at that point the contractions were too intense for me to watch the movie.
My husband and I went back into the bedroom, and then I decided to sit on the toilet for a bit. At this point, it seemed like everything picked up quite a bit. I threw up all my dinner, which made me feel a lot better. (Pizza probably wasn’t the best choice!). It felt like my body was trying to get rid of everything else so it could focus on helping the baby could come out!
At 4am, she checked again since my labor seemed more intense. Only 4 cm dilated! I couldn’t believe it; although I was so distracted by the contractions to really be upset. They were intense and I began to moan through them, which helped. It felt best to squat (over the toilet) and I got sick 2 more times that hour.
The midwife told me I could get into the waterbirth tub at 5am and it couldn’t come fast enough! I knew that if she was telling me I could get into the tub she must be thinking I was making some progress. A minute or two before 5, she told me I could get in. The feeling of slipping into that warm water was incredible! It felt so good and helped me relax quite a bit.
For the next two hours, I went back and forth between the tub and the toilet (which were right next to each other). In the tub, it felt best to be on all fours and have someone pour warm water over my back.
Around 6:30 (?) I was involuntarily pushing at the top of each contraction. Later on I was trying to push with the contractions. At one point I was in the tub and our midwife had me reach down and touch the top of her head. It was exciting to know that we were getting close, but it also felt like she was never going to come! I remember telling my husband, “I want to be done. I don’t want to do this anymore.” and telling the baby, “Come on, baby…come out for me.”
My water had not broken and it was making the pushing so difficult. The midwife offered to try to break my water. We waited for a while, but eventually I decided that I wanted her to try to break my water. She tried to hook the bag to break it, but said that the bag was so tough she couldn’t break it without hurting Molly’s head. She thought she’d snagged it and hoped that might be enough for it to break as I pushed- or we thought Molly might be born in the sac! I got back in the tub and kept pushing. They (my husband and midwife, the only people in the birth center with me) kept trying to remind me to use low moaning sounds, which helped me try to maintain control. It was hard to feel like I was staying under control and not panicking, but they did a great job of keeping me focused.
I was given more hope when our midwife went to put orange rolls in the oven so they’d be ready for us to eat after Molly appeared; I knew we must be relatively close at that point!
I continued to push and could feel the burning as she began to crown. It was difficult to know how much to push and when to breathe to try to prevent tearing. Finally I just kept pushing and pushing because I knew that I wanted her to come out! I remember feeling more pressure as her head crowned and hearing the midwife say “okay, good, now slow down” and I responded, “I’m not doing anything!” as Molly came out in one movement (her shoulders were smaller than her head). I didn’t see her come out (I was on all fours), but the midwife had me reach down and pick her up. She reached over and pulled Molly’s cord off her neck and shoulders, then I was able to hold Molly close to my body and the midwife put a towel around her. It was so incredible to hold my baby and my husband was right behind me, holding my shoulders and looking at our baby. She looked up at us and cried just a bit. We talked to her and told her how excited we were to meet her and how much we love her. That was the moment I had wanted and planned for- that I was the first to hold my baby and no one took her away from us! I was in awe of what my body had accomplished--without need for drugs or substantial interventions! How empowering! Molly was born on October 25, 2010 at 7:48 a.m.
We sat in the tub waiting for her cord to stop pulsing, then the midwife clamped it and my husband cut it. I handed Molly to my husband when I was feeling the pressure of the placenta. Our midwife could see part of the placenta and when I stood up to change positions, all of the placenta was quickly delivered in one piece. She rinsed me off a bit and we went to the bed, where I was able to hold Molly to my breast as I was checked out. I had a few small abrasions, but didn’t need any stitches. We just loved holding her and looking at all her beautiful features. We were in love with her instantly.
After a while of holding her, my husband took her over to the midwife to weigh (7lb 13 oz) and measure (20 ½ inches) her. We sent text and picture messages to everyone to let them know that she’d arrived. My husband fed me some orange rolls and juice when I took ibuprofen. Then we tried to rest, but Molly wasn’t having that- she hated that her hands were in the swaddle. Her daddy took her and held and enjoyed her while I closed my eyes for a few minutes.
Our midwife made us a wonderful breakfast (huckleberry pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns, etc.). Our families came to visit around 1pm, then the midwife checked out Molly and we went home at 4pm. We had the best 2 hour nap of our lives, and enjoyed our time at home as a new family.